Much as I love light & fast, one day adventures that let me sleep off the climb in a real bed, there’s a lot to be said for longer adventures and certainly for nights under the stars.
Of course when it comes to alpine climbing, a night under the stars can be a serious undertaking and a downright freezing one at that. So, when I set out to buy a tent for winter style adventures, finding something solid but also light enough to reasonably lug along was my utmost priority. After debating the options, I settled on Mountain Hardwear’s EV 2*, 4 season (or really just 4th season), 2 person tent and have been pretty damn impressed in the few years since.
Before I dive into the particulars of my review, I should explain that my use is general mountaineering around the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been out on frigid days with temps around zero for sure but nothing truly high altitude if that’s what you’re looking to learn about.
Rock solid against the elements and easy to setup too!
Despite the single wall design of the EV 2, the tent is simply amazing against the elements, at least in my general use that is.
After a couple years of climbs across snow and heavy winds, I have yet to have any issues that were not my own doing (I have forgotten to vent it a time or two.) On trips where other tents are getting blown around, my EV 2 seems to shrug it off as if it were a breeze though inside it can certainly get noisy with the walls flapping back and forth all night. Similarly, I’ve found myself on a few climbs where the forecast did not line up with reality and while regular adjustments to the vents is critical to keep snow out, the tent walls, floor, and waterproof zipper points certainly do a good job repelling any snow and even keeping it from building up too much.
At the same time, the exterior pole design is easy to handle even when setting things up solo. The two main supports criss-cross over the length of the tent while a third pole props up the front of the tent and the door. By using clips rather than fabric to hold the poles in place, it’s easy to adjust if you miss a connection spot along the way. Since I’m almost always on snow, I tend to use deadman anchors to secure the tent in place with special care to dig in the vestibule as that gets the most pull from climbing in and out of the tent.
Reasonable weight, reasonable price
Clocking in at just around 5 lbs depending on your stake selection (or lack there of), the EV 2 is not the lightest 4 season option but since I’m not some sort of speed climber, the durability, resilience, and space is worth the extra 2 pounds over options like the ultra-simple Direkt 2 for me.
At about $700, the tent is hardly a last minute purchase but the price is actually a little lower than that of many of its competitors and not much higher than the cheapest of reliable 4 season options. That just goes to show how much goes into a 4 season tent but also how committed you need to be to using one to justify purchasing rather then renting or borrowing (I’ll share, but only if you’re driving us somewhere real cool.)
Extended stays: Inside comfort
One of the things that initially drew me towards the EV 2 was its size. With 34 sq ft of inside space, a decent ceiling height (41″) and integrated vestibule giving the tent an overall 105″ length, the design is longer than just about anything else I could find in its weight class. On a solo stay, this makes the tent downright luxurious with plenty of room to sleep, stash gear, enjoy a book, and hangout inside and that’s coming from a 6’2″, 210 lbs guy. With several windows and vent points, on a sunny winter day, it’s rather nice to just hang out inside.
Things get a lot more “cozy” when two of us are in the tent however as the tent is a lot more luxurious in length than it is in width. That’s par for the course for the intended use I realize and hardly an issue on a couple day climb, camp, repeat adventure but I would not want to spend weeks inside on an expedition. In a world where money was no object, I’d likely also have the 3-Person, EV 3 (2 lbs heavier) or something similar.
The Downsides: Hot on a nice day & prone to condensation
While the EV 2 is rock solid in any conditions I’ve thrown it into, that comes at the price of breathability (if that’s not a word, it should be.) On a nice day the interior of the tent bakes in the sun which is nice for drying out any wet gear but rough for trying to get some to sleep before an early alpine start. This also means condensation build up from breathing on warmer nights or even if it’s just not well positioned to get adequete airflow on a cold one. On a few occasions, I’ve woken up to a rather icy interior though dialing in setup to face the wind and get good airflow will solve most of that.
In short, the EV 2 is really a winter tent which is to say it really belongs in places where it will literally be freezing. Trying to use it as a more multi-purpose option is just not comfortable.
This year, Mountain Hardwear released an updated version of the EV 2 which made a few notable changes. Outdoor Gear Lab has a full writeup on the revision that I suggest going through for all the details but the basics are that the tent has been beefed up with stronger canopy and floor materials at the expense of a few more ounces of weight. I’ve never had an issue with either and my floor looks pretty damn good despite plenty of ice and rock camping so it may be worth looking for a deal on the older model?
The bottom line: Buy if you play in the 4th season
The EV 2 is a super reliable, easy to use, and secure tent which to me is absolutely essential for true winter / higher altitude adventures where anything else is just tempting fate.
That said, it’s really not intended to join on warmer adventures making it a big investment if you’re not regularly out in the real cold. While setup is straight forward, mastering the venting will make the EV 2 perform much better and become much more comfortable on long, cold nights.
- Category: Tent
- Utility: Mountaineering, Winter Snow Camping
- Pros: Absolutely solid in harsh conditions at a respectable weight
- Cons: Not comfortable in warmer conditions
- Style: Single Wall, 4-Season
- Weight: 4 lb, 10 oz (plus stakes)
- Price: $699.95
- Rating: 4 out of 5
- Official Site | Buy it on Amazon* – Buy it on BackCountry.com*
* Disclosure: I earn a commissions for any sales made through Buy It Now links on this post. As for the tent, I bought that myself and wrote this review without any involvement from Mountain Hardwear.